End in sight for those on eye surgery waitlist
WHEN Bundaberg pensioner Rex Shepherd needed eye surgery to remove cataracts, he dug into his emergency funds and paid $3500 to bypass the public waitlist, opting to pay for the operation himself through the private system.
But when his other eye needed the same operation he couldn't afford it and was forced to travel to Hervey Bay, where the private ophthalmology surgery cost more than $1000 less than here in Bundaberg.
But the State Government believes stories like this will be in the past after announcing $23.4 million to bring much needed relief to those currently on Queensland Health waitlists.
Mr Shepherd said he was "over the moon" to learn others would now have access to publicly funded local services much quicker.
"It's fantastic for those who can least afford it," he said.
Premier Campbell Newman and Health Minister Lawrence Springborg made the announcement in Bundaberg on Monday during Community Cabinet.
Mr Newman said it would enable about 8000 Queenslanders, 258 of those in the Wide Bay region, who had waited longer than clinically recommended, to be seen and treated by June 30, 2015.
"Queensland Health has engaged ophthalmology service providers in a bid to clear this long wait list," he said.
"We are fixing the Queensland health system piece by piece and the Government is now focussing firmly on the unacceptably long wait for ophthalmology appointments to ensure Queenslanders have better access to vital eye care."
Mr Springborg said in was unacceptable to have people waiting, some up to 10 years, to access to the necessary services to correct and save their eyesight.
"This particular contract...will see 8000 Queenslanders have their eyes fixed, some who have been waiting up to a decade for basic services," he said.
"It will allow patients to be treated as close to their place of residence as efficiently, effectively and safely as possible."